Last week I listened to two brothers, one 63 and the other 79, tell of their memories of growing up, while we sat in front of the barn on the farm where they were reared.
They were two of five boys on this farm.
It helped that one of them was a natural born storyteller. However, they both had a lot to tell.
It was a sunny late fall day as we sat in front of the barn and I listened intently as events from different places on the farm came back to life once again.
It was a typical crop and livestock farm of that time. Corn, oats, hay, dairy cattle, chickens, hogs and guinea hens were all part of their daily activities.
The barn interior is the same as it was 80 years ago. The brothers could look at the different areas of the barn and describe what took place there as if it was happening now.
A pen at the far end of the barn was where the stud horse was kept and I was told you did not want to get too close to the horse as it wanted to bite. The horse’s name was Bruce.
The wood stanchions where the cattle were milked remain in place. I was shown how a piece of wood was removed to slide the stanchion open and replaced to close it.
One brother stood where the cream separator was located as if he was ready to reach for the handle and begin separating the cream even though the room was empty.
I heard about the brothers dropping rotten eggs on each other from the hay mow and, of course, the ultimate farm prank of one goading the other to put his tongue on the pump handle in the winter.
It was the boy whose tongue that got stuck to the handle that got the spanking from the mother.
Once his mother freed him from the pump handle with hot water, he asked why he got the spanking when it was his brother’s idea.
His mother’s answer was, “You were dumb enough to do it.”
A neighbor wanted to borrow the farm’s bull for his cattle. The bull was not cooperative when the neighbor came to get him.
He locked his feet in place and he was dragged the mile or so to the neighbor’s farm.
I heard about things that happened while the parents were away and how the stories that were told to upon their return.
Usually these stories had the facts rearranged or missing to protect someone.
After an hour or more, one of the brothers said to me, “Well, that’s about it.”
My time of listening to them was more entertaining than anything I had seen on television.
These brothers knew they grow up in a special place at a special time; and those times will not return.
Once again, I learned about the importance of storytelling and how important it is for both the teller and listener.
The teller gets to relive those moments and the listener gets to go along for the ride.
All of us have stories to tell and taking the time to sit still and let those stories flow is one of the best parts of life.
Television, video games or other distractions are poor substitutes for another person who gets a distant look in his eyes and a faint smile on his lips as they begin to say, “I remember “
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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